Fast Food Trends to Look for in 2020

Successful fast food restaurant owners stay ahead of the curve, from the latest technology and cutting-edge equipment to adventurous new menu items. The new year may still be a few months away, but it’s never too soon to start mapping your strategy. Here are a few of the flavor trends in quick-service restaurants we’re expecting.


Plant-Based Protein


The new plant-based burger patties boast the same texture and similar taste to real ground beef. The rise of these new products has paved the way for a more robust vegan market, and it’s a trend we expect to continue growing into next year. Fast food restaurants (who serve burgers, after all) have taken note and begun adding vegan-friendly fare to their burger options. This trend does not appear to be a flash in the pan. More and more restaurants are exploring plant-based meats, from burgers and sliders to meatloaf and fish. It’s time to start experimenting with new flavors for meatless menu items.


Health-Conscious Bites


Health concerns cut across all restaurant categories – including fast food. Most consumers have made some level of commitment to healthier eating, from Paleo to Keto to Whole 30 and more. Although gluten-free eating has mostly vanished from the headlines, it is still very much an ongoing trend. Dairy-free “milks” are also booming. Both the last two categories are heavily represented in bread, pizza doughs, and desserts. Functional ingredients are also being seen now on fast food menus – ingredients that are thought to promote well-being such as collagen, turmeric, functional mushrooms, nutritional yeast, and CBD oil. Natural flavor ingredients can go a long way toward helping create the tastes you want in your healthier menu items.


Ethnic Flavors


Many Traditional Asian flavors are inspiring new versions of familiar foods, such as burgers with ethnic toppings. Asian crossovers are hot right now as well – look for umami ingredients such as kimchi, gochujang, and miso in sauces, dressings, aioli, condiments, and cocktails. Speaking of cocktails, Japanese whiskeys and gins have been enjoying a moment in the spotlight of their own, forming a rapidly-growing category for several large restaurants chains.


Another influencer in the fast-food sector is Middle Eastern flavor. Healthful and crave-able flavors increased travel to this area, and accessible ingredients have all helped to popularize these foods. Kebabs are as popular as ever with both operators and consumers because they’re delicious and offer natural portion control. They also lend themselves to a wide variety of flavor possibilities, such as a spice blend made of lemon, garlic, olive oil, and salt.


Catering to Kids


It’s also time to think about your littlest customers and find ways to make your menu attractive to their parents. Some of the trends we’re seeing include antibiotic-free dishes with no artificial ingredients, child-size portions of regular menu items, and simple meals that cater to picky eaters.


These are just a few of the ways fast-food restaurants are responding to the growing demand for sophisticated foods, even when time is of the essence. You can leverage these trends by playing with various flavors and finding your own unique items to offer your patrons.